Re: What *is* user friendly... -My Way

Subject: Re: What *is* user friendly... -My Way
From: Bill Sullivan <bsullivan -at- SMTPLINK -dot- DELTECPOWER -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996 16:26:38 -0800

In my definition of user friendly, part of it is getting to the needed
information quickly and easily, and not taking up the user's time
(dare I say waste the user's time?) with self-gratifying balderdash.
And I love T.C.Segar.

People who buy those "Dummies" books and others that take an amusing
tack are people who want to bone up on the software and have reasons
to. A little deftly placed humor here may not be a bad thing for
these folks. It may serve a good purpose. It gets the books noticed
and talked about and remembered at buying time (they cost 40 bucks or
so a pop) and with all the competition on the shelf the funny one may
be the one a lot of people will consider if they are just buying the
book because they have a new job or an interview for a new job and
they want to sound like they know something.

But the poor souls who pour over the manuals that came free with
Ladies' Home Software are a different matter and a different
audience. These devils have sunk good money into software that isn't
working for them, and they are likely to be LIVID, or at the very
least considerably anxious. You don't normally joke with people in
this state.

If someone could show me that cartoon humor (a la Dilbert or anybody
else) could do the job more than ordinary bare bones procedure
writing, I would be glad to listen, but I don't expect to be
convinced. Other angles that impact on the decision (a management
one, actually) are angles of time and cost. If the developers are
developing the software until long after the cows come home, that
doesn't leave you much time to flesh out your cartoons. And how much
extra do we have to pay for your Dilbert wannabe?

The only situations in which humor might go in a user manual that
came with the software might be if there was a fun element to the
software. I think if you were careful you might insert a few
cartoons in a graphics package if you were sure it was going to be
bought by as many funny graphics people as I know. It might be ok
for recipe software, especially bartender software. But for most
uses, it's best to play it straight. It's just friendlier.

Bill Sullivan
bsullivan -at- deltecpower -dot- com
San Diego, California

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